¡Saludos, compañeros gastrónomos! (‘Greetings, fellow foodies!) Discovering the culinary wonders of Barcelona is an absolute delight. Wondering what to eat in Barcelona? Prepare to experience the captivating vibrancy of the city’s food scene. Join us as we embark on a virtual journey through Barcelona’s streets, uncovering an array of tantalising dishes that will satisfy even the most discerning palates. We cover everything from tapas that ignite the senses to authentic paella that transports you to the heart of Spain. Let’s dive in and savour the essence of Barcelona’s gastronomy!
What to Eat in Barcelona for a Taste of Spain
Tapas: Small Bites, Big Delights
Tapas are small plates of food that are perfect for sharing. They’re a great way to sample a variety of different dishes, and they’re usually very affordable. Some of the best tapas bars in Barcelona include Bar Pinotxo, Bar del Pla, and Quimet & Quimet.
Patatas Bravas: Crispy Potatoes with a Spicy Twist
Imagine sinking your teeth into perfectly crispy fried potatoes, generously smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and accompanied by a creamy garlic aioli. The combination of textures is incredible—crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. For a memorable experience, head to Quimet & Quimet or Ciudad Condal, where you’ll find exceptional renditions of this classic tapa.
Pimientos de Padrón: Mild Peppers with a Spicy Surprise
Prepare yourself for a delightful game of culinary roulette with Pimientos de Padrón. These small green peppers are sautéed and lightly salted, offering a mild and slightly sweet flavour. But beware! Occasionally, you’ll encounter a spicy pepper that adds an unexpected kick. For a taste of this thrilling tapa, visit Bar del Pla or Bar Cañete, where they serve some of the best Pimientos de Padrón in town.
Gambas al Ajillo: Sautéed Shrimp Infused with Garlic
For seafood lovers, Gambas al Ajillo is a true delight. Succulent shrimp are sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes, creating a mouthwatering aroma and a harmonious blend of flavours. The shrimp are tender, and the dish has a satisfying spicy kick. To savour this Spanish classic, head to Bar Pinotxo in Mercat de la Boqueria or El Vaso de Oro, where they will treat you to an unforgettable culinary experience.
Croquetas: Irresistible Fried Delights
Croquetas are a beloved Spanish tapa that you simply can’t resist. These golden-fried nuggets are made with a creamy bechamel sauce that’s filled with ingredients like jamón (ham), bacalao (salted cod), or spinach and cheese. The crispy exterior gives way to a velvety, flavourful centre. For outstanding croquetas, make your way to Bar del Pla or Bar Cañete, known for their delicious variations.
Jamón Ibérico: Spanish Cured Ham
Made from the meat of Iberian pigs, Jamón Ibérico is a true Spanish delicacy of cured ham. The ham undergoes a meticulous curing process, resulting in a rich and intense flavour that melts in your mouth. Each slice showcases the intricate marbling and savoury notes that make Jamón Ibérico so highly sought after. To enjoy this exquisite treat, visit La Boqueria market, where you can savour this succulent ham paired with a glass of fine Spanish wine.
Pulpo a la Gallega: Galician-Style Octopus
Transport yourself to the shores of Galicia with a plate of Pulpo a la Gallega. In this tapa, chefs simmer tender octopus, slice it, and drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle it with paprika, and finish it with a sprinkle of sea salt. The octopus is cooked to perfection, offering a delicate texture and a subtle seafood flavour. Visit El Quim de la Boqueria or Bar Pinotxo for a taste of this Galician delight.
Tortilla Española: Classic Spanish Omelette
Tortilla Española is a staple in Spanish cuisine and a must-try tapa. This hearty omelette is made with eggs, potatoes, and onions, resulting in a satisfying and comforting dish. The exterior is lightly crisp while the interior remains soft and packed with flavour. At Bar Mut or Bar Cañete, you can find exceptional Tortilla Española, which is often served as a crowd-pleasing tapa.
Calamares a la Romana: Crispy Fried Squid
For seafood enthusiasts, Calamares a la Romana is a delightful tapa choice. These tender rings of squid are coated in a light batter and deep-fried until golden brown. The result is crispy, succulent morsels that are perfect for dipping into aioli or a squeeze of lemon. Head to El Vaso de Oro or Bar Cañete for a plate of these irresistible fried squid rings.
Albóndigas: Spanish Meatballs
Albóndigas are savoury Spanish meatballs that are packed with flavour. Made from a mixture of ground meat, breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices, these tender and juicy meatballs are typically served in a rich tomato sauce. The combination of the well-seasoned meat and the tangy sauce creates a delightful burst of flavours. Visit Bar del Pla or El Xampanyet for a taste of their delectable Albóndigas.
Queso Manchego: Spanish Sheep Cheese
Indulge in the delicious flavours of Queso Manchego, a traditional Spanish sheep cheese hailing from the region of La Mancha. This semi-firm cheese has a distinct nutty and slightly tangy taste, with a buttery texture that melts in your mouth. Enjoy it on its own or paired with crusty bread and a drizzle of honey. Explore specialty cheese shops like La Quesera or Fromagerie Can Luc to discover exquisite varieties of Queso Manchego.
Mejillones al Vapor: Steamed Mussels
Mejillones al Vapor, or steamed mussels, are a popular tapa that showcases the bounty of the sea. Plump and succulent mussels are steamed to perfection, capturing their natural brininess and delicate flavours. Served in their shells, they are often accompanied by a fragrant broth infused with garlic, white wine, and herbs. The tender flesh of the mussels pairs beautifully with the savoury broth, creating a delightful harmony of flavours. Head to La Muscleria or Restaurant O Retorniño to savour a plate of these exquisite steamed mussels.
Chipirones: Grilled Baby Squid
Chipirones, or grilled baby squid, are a delightful tapa that showcases the wonders of seafood. The chefs marinate and grill these tender and delicate squid to perfection, resulting in a smoky flavour and a slightly charred exterior. They often serve the chipirones with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of sea salt. The combination of the tender squid and the charred smokiness creates a tantalising taste experience. Head to El Quim de la Boqueria or Mariscco Còrsega for a plate of their delectable grilled baby squid.
Pintxos: Bite-Sized Delights
Pintxos, which originated in the Basque Country and have gained popularity throughout Spain, including Barcelona, are bite-sized culinary creations. They typically consist of a slice of bread topped with various ingredients and secured with a toothpick, offering a wide variety of flavours and combinations. From marinated anchovies and goat cheese to Iberian ham and roasted peppers, the possibilities are endless. For an authentic pintxos experience, explore the vibrant streets of the Gothic Quarter or visit Euskal Etxea, where you can indulge in a tempting array of these delectable bites.
Anchoas: Marinated Anchovies
Anchoas, or marinated anchovies, are a true delicacy in Spanish cuisine. These small, silver fish are cured and marinated in vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and herbs, resulting in a tender and intensely flavourful tapa. The marination process enhances the natural brininess of the anchovies while adding a touch of acidity and depth to their taste. Served on bread or on their own, anchoas are a must-try tapa. Visit La Boqueria Market or El Quim de la Boqueria for a taste of their marinated anchovies.
Salmorejo: Chilled Tomato Soup
Salmorejo is a refreshing and vibrant tapa that is perfect for the warm days in Barcelona. This chilled tomato soup is made with ripe tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic, and vinegar. The ingredients are blended together to create a smooth and velvety consistency. With its bright flavour and creamy texture, Salmorejo is a delightful treat. Visit La Pepita or Bar Tomás to enjoy a bowl of this refreshing soup, which is perfect for beating the heat and awakening your taste buds.
Caracoles a la Llauna: Grilled Snails
Caracoles a la Llauna, or Grilled Snails, is a unique and flavourful dish that can be found in Barcelona. These snails are typically marinated in a delicious blend of olive oil, garlic, parsley, and spices, and then grilled to perfection. The result is a tender and aromatic delicacy that pairs well with a glass of local wine. For a taste of Caracoles a la Llauna, head to Bar Tomás, a renowned tapas bar in Barcelona that specialises in this dish. They are known for serving some of the best grilled snails in the city, ensuring a delightful culinary experience for snail enthusiasts.
Seafood: Delights from the Mediterranean
As a coastal city, Barcelona is renowned for its fresh and flavourful seafood dishes. Let’s dive into the Mediterranean depths and explore some seafood specialties.
Paella de Mariscos: A Feast of Rice and Sea Treasures
No culinary journey through Barcelona would be complete without savouring the iconic Paella de Mariscos. Picture a vibrant, saffron-infused rice cooked with an enticing mix of shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, and sometimes even lobster. The rice forms a slightly crispy bottom layer called “socarrat,” adding a delightful crunch. To experience this timeless dish, Can Solé and La Mar Salada are excellent choices.
Arroz Negro: Black Rice with Seafood
Experience the rich flavours of Arroz Negro, a mouthwatering black rice dish infused with the essence of squid ink. When in Barcelona, head over to Barceloneta, a renowned restaurant nestled along the beach, to indulge in this delectable specialty. Prepared with precision and served with an assortment of fresh seafood, this culinary delight will leave you craving for more.
Fideuà: The Noodle Variation of Paella
For a unique twist on the classic paella, try Fideuà. This Catalan seafood dish replaces rice with short noodles, resulting in a delightful texture and flavour. Xiringuito Escribà and Can Majó are known for serving exceptional Fideuà, made by toasting noodles and then simmering them with an assortment of seafood, creating a savoury combination that will leave you craving more.
Zarzuela de Pescado: A Hearty Catalan Fish Stew
To truly immerse yourself in the flavours of Catalonia, indulge in Zarzuela de Pescado—a rich and hearty fish stew. This traditional Catalan dish features a medley of fish, shellfish, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and aromatic spices. The result is a fragrant and flavourful stew that warms the soul. The fish is tender and flaky, absorbing the essence of the broth. For a taste of this culinary gem, head to Can Majó or Paco Alcalde.
Sardinas a la Plancha: Grilled Sardines
Grilled sardines, known as Sardinas a la Plancha, showcase the simplicity and deliciousness of this small fish. After seasoning them with salt, pepper, and olive oil, they are grilled over high heat until they become crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The result is a flavourful and aromatic dish with a hint of smokiness. Enjoy this Mediterranean delight at La Cova Fumada or Peixet als encants.
Gambas a la Plancha: Grilled Prawns
Gambas a la Plancha is a simple yet delightful dish that highlights the natural sweetness and succulence of prawns. Large prawns are seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then grilled to perfection on a hot plate or grill. The result is juicy, charred prawns with a hint of smokiness and a burst of flavour. This classic seafood dish can be enjoyed at Botafumeiro or Puertecillo Sagrada Familia.
Almejas a la Marinera: Clams in White Wine Sauce
Almejas a la Marinera is a classic seafood dish that showcases the natural sweetness of clams. The clams are cooked in a flavourful white wine sauce, infused with garlic, onions, parsley, and a touch of lemon juice. The sauce enhances the delicate flavours of the clams, creating a harmonious and satisfying taste experience. Visit Bar Pinotxo or La Mar Salada for a taste of their delectable Almejas a la Marinera.
Salmonetes Fritos: Fried Red Mullet
Salmonetes Fritos is a delicious seafood dish featuring crispy fried red mullet. The small red mullet fish are lightly seasoned, coated in flour, and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. The result is a plate of delicate and flavourful fish with a crispy exterior. You can find these tasty treats at Bodega Lito or El Racó del Mariner.
Meat: Savoury Delicacies from Farm to Table
Cochinillo Asado: Roasted Suckling Pig
Immerse yourself in the rich flavours of Cochinillo Asado, a succulent roasted suckling pig dish that’s a true culinary delight. For an unforgettable dining experience, make your way to PORK boig per tu, a Catalonian restaurant near Santa Maria del Mar. Here, you can relish the perfectly roasted cochinillo, with its crispy skin and tender meat, expertly prepared to showcase the essence of Spanish cuisine.
Vegetables: Garden-Fresh Bounty of Flavour
Calcots: Grilled Spring Onions
Indulge in the traditional Catalan delicacy of Calcots, a dish of grilled spring onions that people typically enjoy during the Calcotada festival. To savour this unique dish, make your way to Can Travi Nou, a charming restaurant tucked away in the picturesque Horta-Guinardó neighbourhood. Here, you can relish the tender, smoky flavours of the grilled Calcots, typically accompanied by a tangy romesco sauce for dipping.
Sweet Treats: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth
Churros con Chocolate: Fried Dough Bliss
Treat yourself to a beloved Spanish delicacy—Churros con Chocolate. Imagine warm, crispy fried dough pastries dusted with sugar, served alongside a thick and rich hot chocolate for dipping. The combination of the crunchy churros and the indulgent chocolate creates a match made in dessert heaven. For a churro experience to remember, head to Granja M. Viader or La Pallaresa.
Ensaimada: A Spiraled Pastry Delight
Originating from the nearby island of Mallorca, the Ensaimada is a spiral-shaped pastry that will capture your heart. With each bite, these flaky and buttery delights lightly sweeten and melt in your mouth. You can enjoy them plain or filled with options like cream, chocolate, or jam. You can find exceptional Ensaimadas at renowned bakeries such as Forn Mistral and Baluard.
Panellets: Almond Confections
During the festive season, particularly around All Saints’ Day, people typically enjoy panellets, which are traditional Catalan sweets. Confectioners make these sweets from ground almonds, sugar, and egg, and they produce them in a variety of flavours such as marzipan, coconut, chocolate, and more. People often decorate them with pine nuts or roll them in powdered sugar. Panellets are not only delicious but also visually appealing. You can find them in pastry shops and bakeries throughout Barcelona.
Torrijas: Caramelised Spanish French Toast
Indulge in the heavenly delights of Torrijas, a traditional Spanish dessert that’s reminiscent of French toast. For a taste of this sweet delight, head to Bar Cañete or Bar del Pla. Sink your teeth into their exquisite torrijas, soaked in sweet milk, and lovingly caramelised to create a delectable treat.
Torrons: Nougat Treats
Torrons are traditional nougat treats that are especially popular during Christmas time in Barcelona. The confectioners make these sweet treats from a blend of almonds, honey, and sugar, and they produce them in various forms, including hard (turrón duro) or soft and chewy (turrón blando). Some variations also include flavours like chocolate or fruits. We can enjoy torrons by breaking them into bite-sized pieces and savoring their nutty and sweet flavours. Look for torrons in specialty shops like Casa Gispert or Torrons Vicens.
Crema Catalana: The Sweet Finale
No culinary adventure in Barcelona is complete without indulging in Crema Catalana. This creamy Catalan dessert is similar to crème brûlée but with its own unique touch. Velvety smooth custard infused with hints of lemon zest and cinnamon dances on your palate. The caramelised sugar crust adds a delightful crunch to every spoonful. For an unforgettable Crema Catalana experience, make your way to Bar Mut or Can Cargol.
Cava and Sangria: The Iconic Drinks of Catalonia
Cava: The Sparkling Wine of Catalonia
Raise a glass of effervescence and indulge in the splendour of Cava, Spain’s renowned sparkling wine. Barcelona is home to numerous establishments that offer a wide selection of Cavas to suit every palate. Whether you prefer a dry Brut or a fruity Reserva, visit La Vinya del Senyor, a cosy wine bar overlooking the beautiful Santa Maria del Mar church, to savour the finest bubbles and toast to a memorable experience in Barcelona.
Sangria: The Classic Spanish Wine Cocktail
Escape the summer heat and quench your thirst with a refreshing glass of Sangria. This iconic Spanish beverage is a delightful fusion of red wine, fresh fruits, and a hint of sweetness. For a taste of authentic Sangria, head to Bar del Pla, a cosy tavern in the trendy El Born district, where you can sip on this fruity elixir and embrace the vibrant spirit of Barcelona.
Barcelona is a culinary paradise where every bite tells a story. From the delightful tapas to the tantalising seafood dishes, and the traditional Catalan specialties to the sweet indulgences, the flavours of Barcelona are as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. Therefore, do not hesitate to immerse yourself in this culinary journey, exploring the city’s hidden gems and well-known establishments. Whether you’re strolling through the bustling streets or venturing into the charming neighbourhoods, Barcelona’s food scene is sure to leave you with unforgettable culinary memories.